Maryland special session expected mid-October

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration expects this fall’s special legislative session on congressional redistricting to convene during the week of Oct. 17, an O’Malley spokesman said Tuesday.

While the governor has not formally announced the date for the session, O’Malley is planning to call it sometime that week, Rick Abbruzzese said.

The Maryland General Assembly typically meets for a 90-day session beginning in January, but lawmakers need a special session to redraw the state’s eight congressional districts based on the results of the census. If lawmakers take up only congressional redistricting, the session is not expected to last more than a few days.

Some lawmakers have discussed introducing legislation in addition to redistricting to raise revenue for the state’s badly depleted Transportation Trust Fund. Although lawmakers will be able to introduce legislation when they gather for the special session, it’s unclear how much support exists to take on challenging revenue measures.

This year, a state commission recommended that Maryland raise $800 million more in annual transportation funding to shore up the transportation revenues. O’Malley, a Democrat, has expressed interest in moving away from a traditional flat tax on gasoline, because new cars and trucks are now designed to use less gas.

“The governor is still considering whether to address the Transportation Trust Fund in a special session or wait until the next regular session,” Abbruzzese said Tuesday.

One of a variety of recommendations by the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding included applying the state’s sales tax to gasoline. The state has a 23.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax, which was last raised in 1992.

A five-member panel that will meet publicly for the first time on Wednesday will make recommendations to the governor for redistricting Maryland’s eight congressional districts.

The commission also will submit recommendations for redistricting for state legislative districts. The governor will introduce that plan in a joint resolution to the General Assembly on Jan. 11, the first day of the legislative session. Lawmakers will have 45 days to either approve the governor’s plan or pass an alternative plan. If a plan is not passed in 45 days, the governor’s plan becomes law as submitted.

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